There were record fields in all three sections of the National Cross-Country Championships for ladies, which were held at Blackburn last Saturday when Wallasey's captain, Barbara Banks and young Pat Robertson took part in the senior and intermediate races respectively.
Pat was away first in a field of nearly 120 girls, running a 2-mile course, which coincided with an almost tropical downpour. Northern champion Pat Lewis of Bury, quickly took a lead which she was not to lose and the rest of the field was strung out behind her before the half-mile mile had been reached.
Pat finished in 16th place in her first National championships. As a first year intermediate, she will have an advantage next year when most (if not all) of the 15 girls who beat her will move up into the senior ranks. But one thing is certain, and that is that she will not, have to compete in worse conditions than she did last Saturday.
One does not usually associate the female of the species with the word 'guts', but that is the word for the performance of Barbara Banks last Saturday.
Along with 130 other seniors she experienced similar conditions to the younger girls in the previous race, but with the added burden of an extra 1 ½ miles to run.
Barbara was in 70th place at the close of the first circuit and moving along very nicely when she took a nasty fall in negotiating a narrow gap in a fence with barbed wire surrounds.
Barbara slipped approaching the hazard, twisted her right leg and received a deep gash in her left ankle which needed seven stitches at the Blackburn lnfirmary after the race.
But she ran on to the finish, nearly half-a-mile away, although having lost so much ground in falling she had to be content with 89th place. A poor reward for a lady with guts!
National - Norwich - 04/03/1967
Wallasey junior men's team travelled down to Norfolk last weekend to compete in the English Cross-Country Championships.
The course laid out in the Royal Agricultural Showground, Norwich, was not a course for the rugged runners usually produced by the tough Northern cross-country courses and many of the athletes found that they could not match the pace of the Southern runners.
The senior race provided the greatest cross-country spectacle that can be seen in Britain as just under a thousand runners dressed in all colours imaginable lined up in the pens for the start.
It was an awe inspiring sight to see some of the greatest athletes of the country, plus the best ten from New Zealand, fighting to reach the tricky right-hand bend first and get in front of the inevitable melee that broke out behind.
The Wallasey team joined the 383 starters for the last race of the day, the junior championship. As always, the start was very fast but Wallasey's four counting men were all in the first 150 after half a mile.
Mike McNamee, enjoying running in close-packed company on the 'tricky' lane, moved through the field and joined Alan Keating and Barrie Smith, Alan, suffering from stomach trouble, soon began to drop back whilst Barrie gradually forged ahead place by place.
At the 3-mile stage Barrie Smith led the Wallasey team in about 16 minutes, with Mike McNamee 40 seconds behind and Ken Rosso running strongly behind him.
Over the final 3 miles Barrie Smith moved slowly up the field, Mike McNamee gradually lost places as he tired, and Ken Rosso stayed in a consistent position in the field.
It was Alan Keating who really turned the power on at this point. After recovering from his stomach trouble he really dug his nails in and worked hard to bring himself through the field and rejoin the bunch that Rosso and McNamee were in.
Barrie Smith finished 108th, a really first-class effort, especially as he has not been able to train consistently owing to work commitments, Mike McNamee finished 189th, Alan Keating 195th and Ken Rosso 198th.
Mike Whiteside, who travelled alone from his University to compete for Wallasey, did not have a very good day and finished well down.
Of the 96 teams that entered over fifty actually started and finished, and Wallasey was 29th. Of the Northern clubs Wallasey were sixth.
The team's and club's thanks go to Doug Hanna for the stout way in which he drove the team to the race and acted as team manager, and to Alan Keating who shared the driving with him.